Many times, when Mel tells students to turn and talk, some of our students struggle to develop meaningful conversations. A successful conversation pre-supposes that they are attending to not only the question, but also the lesson leading up to the question. After Mel finished her demonstration, I turned off the camera and listened in on two pairs of students. Mel had asked them what they noticed about how she had used her chart to push her thinking. I had to remind them of the question and then help them along with thinking stems and sentence starters. Even then, by the time they got their conversation started, Mel was calling the group back together.
When the mini-lesson ended, we still had over thirty minutes of reading time so I pulled the four students into a strategy group. I explained to them that we all have the potential to space out during a lesson and responsible learners develop strategies that help them focus. Together, we re-watched the two-minute demonstration that I had taped and I paused it a few times to have them jot down key observations they made. At the end, one of the students and I had a model turn and talk. Then, we all talked about how much easier it is to generate ideas and have a conversation if you have a few written bullets in front of you. My challenge to these students is to use this bulleting strategy during upcoming mini-lessons. I will be there to remind them and support them but my hope is that they begin to integrate this note-taking strategy to help them initiate and engage in more meaningful peer conversations.